Front Page Titles (by Subject) XLVI: TO JARED ELIOT - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. II Letters and Misc. Writings 1735-1753
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XLVI: TO JARED ELIOT - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. II Letters and Misc. Writings 1735-1753 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. II (Letters and Misc. Writings 1735-1753).
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TO JARED ELIOT
I have perused your two Essays on Field Husbandry, and think the public may be much benefited by them; but, if the farmers in your neighborhood are as unwilling to leave the beaten road of their ancestors as they are near me, it will be difficult to persuade them to attempt any improvement. Where the cash is to be laid out on a probability of a return, they are very averse to the running any risk at all, or even expending freely, where a gentleman of a more public spirit has given them ocular demonstration of the success.
About eighteen months ago, I made a purchase of about three hundred acres of land near Burlington, and resolved to improve it in the best and speediest manner, that I might be enabled to indulge myself in that kind of life which was most agreeable. My fortune, thank God, is such that I can enjoy all the necessaries and many of the indulgences of life; but I think that in duty to my children I ought so to manage, that the profits of my farm may balance the loss my income will suffer by my retreat to it. In order to this, I began with the meadow on which there had never been much timber, but it was always overflowed. The soil is very fine, and black about three feet; then it comes to a bluish clay. Of this deep meadow I have about eighty acres, forty of which had been ditched and mowed. The grass which comes in first after ditching is spear-grass and white clover; but the weeds are to be mowed four or five years before they will be subdued, as the vegetation is very luxuriant.
This meadow had been ditched and planted with Indian corn, of which it produced above sixty bushels per acre. I first scoured up my ditches and drains, and took off all the weeds; then I ploughed it, and sowed it with oats in the last of May. In July I mowed them down together with the weeds, which grew plentifully among them, and they made good fodder. I immediately ploughed it again, and kept harrowing till there was an appearance of rain; and, on the 23d of August, I sowed near thirty acres with red clover and herd-grass, allowing six quarts of herd-grass and four pounds of red clover to an acre in most parts of it; in other parts, four quarts of herd-grass and three pounds of red clover. The red clover came up in four days and the herd-grass in six days; and I now find that, where I allowed the most seed, it protects itself the best against the frost. I also sowed an acre with twelve pounds of red clover, and it does well. I sowed an acre more with two bushels of rye-grass seed and five pounds of red clover; the rye-grass seed failed, and the red clover heaves out much for want of being thicker. However, in March next I intend to throw in six pounds more of red clover, as the ground is open and loose. As these grasses are represented not durable, I have sown two bushels of the sweeping of hay-lofts (where the best hay was used), well riddled, per acre, supposing that the spear-grass and white clover seed would be more equally scattered when the other shall fail.
What surprised me was to find that the herd-grass, whose roots are small and spread near the surface, should be less affected by the frost than the red clover, whose roots I measured in the last of October, and found that many of their tap roots penetrated five inches, and from its sides threw out near thirty horizontal roots, some of which were six inches long, and branched. From the figure of this root, I flattered myself that it would endure the heaving of the frost; but I now see that wherever it is thin sown it is generally hove so far out that but a few of the horizontal and a small part of the tap roots remain covered, and I fear will not recover. Take the whole together, it is well matted, and looks like a green corn-field.
I have about ten acres more of this ground ready for seed in the spring, but expect to combat with the weeds a year or two. That sown in August I believe will rise so soon in the spring as to suppress them in a great measure.
My next undertaking was a round pond of twelve acres. Ditching round it, with a large drain through the middle, and other smaller drains, laid it perfectly dry. This, having first taken up all the rubbish, I ploughed up and harrowed it many times over, till it was smooth. Its soil is blackish; but, in about a foot or ten inches, you come to a sand of the same color with the upland. From the birch that grew upon it, I took it to be of a cold nature, and therefore I procured a grass which would best suit that kind of ground, intermixed with many others, that I might thereby see which suited it best. On the 8th of September, I laid it down with rye, which being harrowed in, I threw in the following grass seed: a bushel of Salem grass or feather-grass, half a bushel of timothy or herd-grass, half a bushel of rye-grass, a peck of burden-grass or blue bent, and two pints of red clover per acre (all the seed in the chaff except the clover), and bushed them in. I could wish they had been clean, as they would have come up sooner, and been better grown before the frost; and I have found by experiment, that a bushel of clean chaff of timothy or Salem grass will yield five quarts of seed. The rye looks well, and there is abundance of timothy or Salem grass come up amongst it; but it is yet small, and in that state there is scarce any knowing those grasses apart. I expect from the sand lying so near the surface, that it will suffer much in dry weather.